Issues associated with the exposure of patients to strong, static magnetic fields during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are reviewed and discussed. The history of human exposure to magnetic fields is reviewed, and the contradictory nature of the literature regarding effects on human health is described. In the absence of ferromagnetic foreign bodies, there is no replicated scientific study showing a health hazard associated with magnetic field exposure and no evidence for hazards associated with cumulative exposure to these fields. The very high degree of patient safety in strong magnetic fields is attributed to the small value of the magnetic susceptibility of human tissues and to the lack of ferromagnetic components in these tissues. The wide range of susceptibility values between magnetic materials and human tissues is shown to lead to qualitatively differing behaviors of these materials when they are exposed to magnetic fields. Mathematical expressions are provided for the calculation of forces and torques.